Opportunities and Challenges of Complex Biomedical Data: Introduction to the Science of "Big Data" (BIOSTAT 202)

Summer 2024 (3 units)

This is an introduction to the opportunities and challenges of using large datasets for biomedical research. Topics to be covered include: What makes big data different? What big data can and cannot do. Phases of data science: getting data, merging and cleaning data, storing and accessing data, visualizing or telling stories with data, drawing conclusions from data. Introduction to supervised and unsupervised machine learning including detailed discussion of algorithms and model fitting.

Online Syllabus


Course Director: Karla Lindquist, PhD

Specialist, OB/Gyn, Reproductive Sciences
email: [email protected]


Twice weekly pre-recorded lectures introduce the substantive content for each module, which is subsequently reinforced in weekly applied homework problem sets. Weekly computer lab sessions give students guided problems to work through and the opportunity to learn to use the software, ask questions, and have more interaction with faculty.

Lectures: Monday and Thursdays, 1:00 to 1:45 PM, July 18  to August 29, 2024 (first session Thursday, July 18)
Formal review of recorded lecture followed by application of lecture material as well as question and answer discussion.

Computer Laboratories: Thursdays, 2:00 PM to 3:45 PM, July 18 to August 29, 2024
Students have access to course faculty for questions on current or prior curriculum, assignments, and software implementation.

In addition, all students will be required to submit a final project in which they manipulate, clean, and analyze data emanating from a large data source. Students will be given a choice of datasets and guidelines for performing the project.

All course materials and handouts will be posted on the course's online syllabus.


Grades will be based on the Computer Lab assignments and the Final Project. Lab assignments will be due by the start of lecture the following week. Homework problem sets will account for 70% of the points for the course. The final project, based on course supplied data sets, will account for 30% of the points possible for the course.

Students must hand in all homework problem sets (even if late), complete a satisfactory Final Project, and receive at least 80% of the total number of points assigned during the quarter to receive a Satisfactory (if taking Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) or B (if taking for a letter grade) in the course.

Official UCSF transcripts are not available for individual courses taken within the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.  Students not in full-year TICR Programs who satisfactorily pass all course requirements will, upon request, receive a Certificate of Course Completion.

Only UCSF students (defined as individuals enrolled in UCSF degree or certificate programs) will receive academic credit for courses. Official transcripts are available to UCSF students only. A Certificate of Course Completion will be available upon request to individuals who are not UCSF students and satisfactorily pass all course requirements.

UCSF Graduate Division Policy on Disabilities

To Enroll

ATCR and MAS students use the Student Portal

Students taking individual courses:

Summer 2024 Course Fees
How to pay (please read before applying)
Summer 2024 Course Schedule

Apply by July 5, 2024 for summer quarter.
Only one application needs to be completed for all courses desired during the quarter.